Port Aransas, a city on Mustang Island, will seem like a corner of heaven for those who enjoy fishing and swimming. Port Aransas is awash in teal, from the buildings to the sea, and it’s hard to miss.
Here, the Gulf of Mexico is the main attraction, offering a wealth of fresh seafood, miles of white sand beaches, and excellent deep-sea fishing.
With so much to offer, it’s no wonder that Port Aransas is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Texas. Here are the 20 best things to do in Port Aransas to help you plan your itinerary:
1. Port Aransas Beach
Port Aransas Beach is famous for its beautiful sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and recreational activities. Visitors to the beach can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, fishing, kayaking, windsurfing, and much more.
Making sturdy sandcastles is a well-liked activity since there is silty sand on the beaches of Port Aransas. One of the biggest sand sculpture contests in the country is held in Port Aransas. A local expert is available to teach you the art for those who have lost their sandcastle-building mojo.
The beach is also great for taking a walk, relaxing, and enjoying the stunning views. There are plenty of restaurants and bars in the area and shops selling souvenirs and beachwear.
In addition, several hotels and accommodation options are close to the beach, making it the perfect place to stay for a relaxing vacation.
2. The Port Aransas Ferry System
The Port Aransas Ferry System is a must-see for any visitors to the area. The ferry ride is an experience not to be missed, and the views from the top of the ferry are simply stunning.
The ferry ride takes visitors from Port Aransas across Corpus Christi Bay to Mustang Island. The journey over the sea takes roughly ten minutes. On the ferry ride, visitors see some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in all of Texas.
Adult round-trip tickets cost $14, while kid tickets cost $7. Therefore, check out the ferry system before traveling by car or boat!
The ride is also an excellent opportunity to see some local wildlife, including dolphins, pelicans, and seagulls. After arriving on Mustang Island, visitors can explore the historic town of Port Aransas, go for a swim in the Gulf of Mexico, or simply relax on the beach.
3. Mustang Island State Park
Mustang Island State Park is one of the top sights to visit in Port Aransas. The island is home to various plant and animal life and miles of pristine beaches. Visitors can enjoy hiking, biking, fishing, and picnicking in the park.
A $12 parking pass is required, which you can purchase from a golf cart vendor on the beach or, I believe, at neighborhood shops. You must bring your own food, drink, picnic, and other essentials. For bathrooms, there are simply porta potties. There are no trees or other shade sources, so most individuals had canopies or tents for protection.
You can also rent golf carts to drive around the beach. The island also has a popular campground, which provides an excellent base for exploring the surrounding area. Mustang Island State Park is ideal for those seeking a relaxing getaway or an exciting adventure.
One downside of this beach is that you can get bitten by little bugs that look similar to ants. Additionally, Port Aransas’ medical clinics close at 5 p.m, so ensure you go with a good first aid kit if you’re planning to stay on the island after that time.
4. Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center
If you’re looking for something fun and unique to do while visiting Port Aransas, be sure to check out Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center. This activity is perfect for bird enthusiasts of all levels, from beginner to expert.
Named after a local woman passionate about birds, Leonabelle Turnbull Birding offers the perfect opportunity to explore the island’s diverse bird population. You can even spot some rare species!
The elevated wooden walkway provides a good view of the bird sanctuary, and you might be lucky to see an alligator sleeping close to the walkway.
The best time to go birding is early morning when the birds are most active. But no matter when you go, you’re sure to have a blast. So grab your binoculars or camera and head to Leonabelle Turnbull Birding for an unforgettable experience.
5. Roberts Point Park
Roberts Point Park is one of the many reasons to visit Port Aransas. Located on the waterfront, the 50-acre park offers breathtaking views of the harbor and lush greenery. Roberts Point Park is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic, go for a stroll, or just relax and take in the sights and sounds of nature.
The marina is home to numerous sailboats and powerboats and is accessible from the park. You can watch dolphins perform bow jumps in front of the big ships in the channel.
The Aransas Pass Lydia Ann Lighthouse can be seen well from the park with binoculars.
Parking is available, and entry to the park is free!
The park also has a playground and a small pavilion, making it an ideal spot for families with children. In addition to its natural beauty, Roberts Point Park is also home to various wildlife, including ducks, geese, and herons.
Whether you’re looking for a place to enjoy the outdoors or simply want to take in the scenic views, Roberts Point Park is worth a visit.
6. Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie's Pasture
Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture is one of the most popular attractions in Port Aransas. The preserve is home to various wildlife, including alligators, Texas tortoises, and over 200 species of birds.
Visitors can explore the preserve on foot, by kayak, or by canoe. Several hiking trails wind through the preserve. Port Aransas Nature Preserve is a great place to see some of the unique wildlife that calls Texas home.
7. Texas SandFest
Each year, Port Aransas comes alive for Texas SandFest, one of the largest sand sculpting competitions in the country. The event attracts hundreds of artists from all over the world, who come to compete for prizes and bragging rights.
For three days, the beach is transformed into a giant sculpture garden, with massive creations rising out of the sand. Visitors can stroll along the shoreline to admire the sculptures, and there are also plenty of food and drink vendors on hand to keep everyone fueled up.
Texas SandFest is a must-see event for anyone visiting Port Aransas, and it’s a great way to experience the town’s unique spirit.
8. Horace Caldwell Fishing Pier
If you’re looking for a place to fish in Port Aransas, look no further than the Horace Caldwell Fishing Pier. This pier is one of the longest in Texas, stretching over 1,200 feet into the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s also one of the most popular fishing spots in the area, with plenty of benches and Tackle Shops where you can buy bait and supplies. Whether you’re an experienced fisherman or just getting started, you will enjoy spending a day at the Horace Caldwell Fishing Pier.
The entry fee per person is $3 while for senior and, disabled veterans is $1. And when you’re done fishing for the day, be sure to check out the nearby restaurants and shops for a bite to eat or some souvenirs.
9. San Jose Island
San Jose Island is a must-see for any nature lover or beach enthusiast. This beautiful island is located just off the coast of Port Aransas and is home to various plant and animal life.
In addition to its natural beauty, San Jose Island also has a rich history. On a sand dune on San Jose Island, the USS Alabama Lt. Chandler waded ashore on July 26, 1845, and hoisted the first American flag to fly over Texas territory.
Visitors can enjoy hiking, bird watching, picnicking, and swimming. There are also several fishing spots on the island, and the waters around San Jose Island are known for being especially fruitful.
You can purchase tickets for the ferry at $18 per person to and from at the visitor center. Today, San Jose Island is a popular tourist destination, and it is one of the best places to enjoy the beauty of the Texas coastline.
10. Port Aransas Museum & Farleys Historic Boat Shop
Port Aransas Museum & Farleys Historic Boat Shop is one of the most exciting places to visit in Port Aransas. The museum is housed in an old boat shop, and it contains a wealth of information about the area’s history.
The Farleys were a family of shipbuilders who helped settle Port Aransas, and the shop contains a wealth of tools and equipment used in their business.
In addition to the boat shop, the museum also contains exhibits that chronicle Port Aransas’s history from its early days as a fishing village to its present-day status as a popular tourist destination.
Visitors can also view a variety of artifacts that have been recovered from shipwrecks in the area. The museum is an excellent place to learn about the rich history of Port Aransas, and it is well worth a visit for anyone who is interested in maritime history.
11. The University of Texas Marine Science Institute
The University of Texas Marine Science Institute is a world-renowned research facility dedicated to studying ocean life and preserving our marine ecosystem. Located in Port Aransas, the institute is home to a team of passionate scientists constantly seeking new ways to protect and conserve our oceans.
In addition to their research, the institute also offers a variety of educational programs and public outreach events that allow everyone to learn more about the importance of ocean conservation.
From their world-class research to their commitment to education, the University of Texas Marine Science Institute truly makes a difference in the fight to save our oceans.
12. Port Aransas Fishermans Wharf
Port Aransas Fishermans Wharf is one of the top things to do in Port Aransas for several reasons. First, the views from the harbor are simply stunning. The gorgeous blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico stretch out before you, and the white sand beaches are just a short walk away.
Second, the Fishermans Wharf is a great place to catch some fresh fish. There are several fish markets and restaurants on the pier, so you can easily buy or order fresh seafood. Third, the harbor is also home to a number of shops and businesses, including a few art galleries.
This makes it a great place to browse and find unique gifts or souvenirs. Finally, the wharf is just a short walk from many of Port Aransas’ top attractions, making it a convenient place to start or end your day.
13. Chute 'Em Up Parasailing/Port A Parasail
It’s hard to beat the feeling of being on vacation, and there’s no better place to enjoy some time off than Port Aransas. The city is known for its beautiful beaches, delicious seafood, and endless sun fun opportunities.
And if you’re looking for an adrenaline-pumping activity to add to your list of things to do, Chute ‘Em Up Parasailing/Port A Parasail is a must. There’s nothing quite like getting a bird’s eye view of the gulf coast from hundreds of feet in the air, and with Chute ‘Em Up Parasailing/Port A Parasail, you can do just that.
The experienced professionals will help you strap into your harness and take off from the boat’s deck; before you know it, you’ll be soaring high above the water.
So whether you’re looking for a thrill or a unique way to see the sights, check out Chute ‘Em Up Parasailing/Port A Parasail on your next trip to Port Aransas.
14. Coffee Waves
Coffee Waves is one of the most popular things to do in Port Aransas. This unique coffee shop is located on the beach, so you can enjoy the ocean’s sound and smell while sipping your favorite brew.
The coffee here is made with 100% Arabica beans, and the staff takes excellent care in brewing each cup to perfection.
In addition to traditional coffee drinks, Coffee Waves also offers a variety of specialty drinks, like their famous Mexican Mocha and their popular Frozen Latte.
15. Dolphin Watch Nature Tour
If you’re looking for an activity that’s both educational and fun, then look no further than the Dolphin Watch Nature Tour. Led by experienced naturalists, this tour will take you out into the waters of Port Aransas, where you can see dolphins up close and learn all about these fantastic creatures.
You’ll also see various other wildlife, including seabirds, turtles, and maybe even a manatee. The tour lasts for two hours and is suitable for all ages. So whether you’re a Port Aransas local or just visiting for the weekend, be sure to add the Dolphin Watch Nature Tour to your list of things to do. You won’t be disappointed!
16. Hot Spot Fishing Charters
If you’re looking for something fun to do in Port Aransas, look no further than Hot Spot Fishing Charters. This charter company offers a variety of fishing trips that are perfect for novice anglers and experienced fishers alike.
Whether you’re interested in catching redfish, trout, flounder, or something else, Hot Spot Fishing Charters has a trip that’s right for you. And best of all, the company’s captain and crew are passionate about fishing and ensuring their guests have a great time.
So if you’re looking for an incredible fishing experience, book a trip with Hot Spot Fishing Charters. You won’t regret it!
17. Port Aransas Community Theatre
Port Aransas Community Theatre is one of the things to do in Port Aransas. The theatre has entertained audiences for years and continues to bring top-notch live entertainment to the Coastal Bend region.
From February through December, the theatre produces main-stage productions ranging from musicals and comedies to dramas and mysteries. In addition to the main-stage exhibits, the theatre also offers a variety of educational and outreach programs for students of all ages.
These programs include workshops, classes, and camps focusing on acting, directing, design, and technical theatre. Port Aransas Community Theatre is an excellent option whether you’re looking for a night out or a way to engage with the community.
18. Red Dragon Pirate Cruises
Nestled among the sand dunes and sea oats of Mustang Island, Port Aransas is a small town with a big personality. And no visit to Port Aransas is complete without taking a ride on the Red Dragon pirate ship.
Over the years, the Red Dragon has provided visitors with a one-of-a-kind pirate experience. Guests can enjoy a leisurely cruise around the harbor while enjoying the Pirate Show, or they can opt for a more action-packed Adventure Cruise complete with water cannons and treasure hunts.
And kids will love getting their very own pirate tattoos. Whether you’re young or old, the Red Dragon is sure to be one of the highlights of your visit to Port Aransas.
19. Lighthouse Lakes Trail
Lighthouse Lakes Trail is one of the best things to do in Port Aransas. It’s a three-mile interpretive loop around two freshwater lakes. The trail is flat and easy, making it great for all ages and abilities.
You’ll also learn about the area’s history, wildlife, and ecology. A trail is also a great place to bird-watch; several species of birds have been spotted here.
So whether you’re a nature lover or just looking for a relaxing stroll, check out Lighthouse Lakes Trail when you’re in Port Aransas.
20. Skydive South Texas, Port Aransas, TX
There is no better place than Skydive South Texas in Port Aransas for thrill seekers looking for an adrenaline rush. As one of the only coastal skydiving locations in the state, Skydive South Texas offers stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico as you freefall from 10,000 feet.
The highly experienced team provides a rush like no other while ensuring your safety and comfort. And for those who want to enjoy the view from a different perspective, Skydive South Texas also offers tandem jumps, where they can pair you with an experienced jumper for an exciting experience you’ll never forget.
So whether you’re looking for a night out or a way to engage with the community, Port Aransas Community Theatre is a great option. And if you’re looking for something more adventurous, check out Red Dragon Pirate Cruises or Skydive South Texas.
And don’t forget to take advantage of the many free things in Port Aransas, like exploring the Lighthouse Lakes Trail.
If you’re considering moving to Port Aransas, you will likely find this small town with a big personality enthralling. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Port Aransas today!